It is with deep regret that we have to cancel our planned diesel gala event planned for January 6th, 2024.
This is due to unprecedented levels of flooding in Downpatrick town and the surrounding countryside, which you may have seen on the TV and online news.
This is the worst flooding the railway and the town has ever experienced, and the damage is significant. All of our diesel locomotives and railcars have been submerged in water for some time. This means water may have entered axleboxes, traction motors and other aspects of the locomotives. It will take us many months to restore the locomotives, and we are braced for very bad news because it is possible that some may be beyond our ability to repair. We will not know until the waters fully subside and full inspections can take place. This all takes time.
An overview of the station and wider railway area showing the extent of the flooding. [Lecale drone video/photos]
Water level on the bogies of diesel loco 146, which rose above the axleboxes and traction motors
146, G617, A39R, 80 class power car 90, and the Wickham railcar have all been in deep water, and it is simply not possible for them to be ready in January. Additionally, power car 69 in the workshop, under restoration, has also been submerged. The steam locos are also partly submerged but are not as complex to recover as more ‘modern’ traction is.
The high water mark on loco G617
450 class railcar 458 has been luckier, and escaped water rising above the axleboxes everywhere except the driving trailer cab end, but we still need to inspect it and dry it out fully to prevent possible major damage.
On top of this, all of the track outside of the station area remains deeply submerged and we are unable to inspect it and ascertain what work is needed, or if any major damage has occurred.
Tracks outside the station premises under deep floodwater
As if that wasn’t enough, the locomotive sheds, workshop and carriage gallery have also been under deep water, 4-5 feet at times. Spares, tools, and all manner of other things we need for the railway have been damaged or destroyed. Damage will run into tens if not hundreds of thousands of pounds.
With all of the above in mind, we have no other option but to cancel the diesel gala. We are truly very sorry about this.
Please be patient, as the refund process takes time and we are very busy with the clean up and administration at this very difficult time.
Our volunteers are heartbroken at what can only be described as a disaster for the railway, and while we are determined to build back and open again, we have a massive task ahead of us and need all the support and understanding the wider community can offer.
We have faced major hurdles before and have overcome these. With the hard work of our volunteers, hopefully we can do the same once again and in due course we will see a return to better times.
Thank you for your understanding and support at this time.
The high water mark on the battery boxes of an 80 class power car
Our railway has been hit by major flooding at the end of October and start of November 2023.
The flood waters have totally overwhelmed the railway and much of the centre of Downpatrick, leaving the railway tracks, yard, buildings and rolling stock submerged in deep flood water and much damage has been incurred.
We understand that you may be concerned about ticket bookings for the Lapland Express and also the 6th January 2024 diesel gala. Please be assured that nobody will lose out on their bookings, but we must expect disruption in the coming weeks with some events impacted.
Our team is very small and run by volunteers in their spare time, so we please ask for your patience when waiting for any responses to queries. As it is likely that phone lines will be unavailable, the best way to contact us is via email: email@example.com
You can follow this webpage for regular updates
Our Lapland Express trains are on sale now, with loads of interest so far you should definitely book your places early to avoid disappointment!
This year we have added an extra date, so Santa’s trains are running on NINE DAYS over five weekends, with Saturday 23rd December as well as the preceding four Saturdays and Sundays:
- Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th November
- Saturday 2nd & Sunday 3rd December
- Saturday 9th & Sunday 10th December
- Saturday 16th & Sunday 17th December
- Saturday 23rd December
Trains depart Downpatrick at 12:00, 13:15, 14:30, 15:55 and 17:10 though do check because not all trains run on all days.
We have tweaked the age groups slightly this year to 0-5 and 6+ years, with a new range of gifts from Santa. Your tickets will get everyone in your group a hot chocolate and cookie, though alternatives are available and we do provide ‘free from’ options for adults and kids with food intolerances – contact us after booking to arrange this.
Book those tickets now – head over to our Santa page to find out more details.
Will you be running a ‘quiet train’ for kids with ASD?
Yes, we absolutely will be doing this. This will be by application only and we will announce this in due course via our mailing list and Facebook page. Sign up, and/or follow us!
FRIDAY FLASH SALE ALERT!
HOLY SUPERTRAIN, BATMAN! Calling all citizens of Gotham and beyond, we’re offering a FLASHtastic deal! Get a dazzling 25% off on all ticket prices for this weekend only!
Join us for an action-packed journey this August and as it’s Friday, the legendary superhero with lightning-fast speed and a heart of gold, The Flash has insisted on having a Flash Sale!
This August 12th, the devilish duo Clown Prince of Crime and the ever-unpredictable Harley Quinn, known for their terrifying brand of mayhem, are trying to make a clean getaway onboard the train and we have to stop them – as there’s no telling what chaos might unfold if they get their hands on the train’s controls! But there’s one thing the devious duo haven’t counted on: Gotham’s caped crusader and his friend are following them here, ready to put a stop to their fiendish plot. Help Batman, the Caped Crusader, and his Justice League allies Wonder Woman, the Amazonian Princess, and the Flash, the Scarlet Speedster, tackle the wily schemes of The Joker and Harley Quinn. Keep your eyes peeled for their devious traps as our heroes use their cunning skills to save the day.
This is going to be a tough mission, and we’re going to need all the help we can get. Join us in heart-pounding escapades as we battle villains and champions justice for all! Unleash your superhero spirit and hop aboard our fantastical Supertrain as we zip through the scenic landscapes of Gotham, County Down! Be a part of the action and witness the epic showdown between good and evil! Come dressed as your favourite superhero or supervillain! Will you be the hero Gotham deserves or the villain it fears?
It’s time to get your tickets and join our superhero brigade on the most action-packed train journey! Let’s unite to bring justice and excitement to the world of Supertrain Showdown!
Visit the online ticket office here
Our Lapland Express trains have been selling out fast, and loads of you have been asking if there will be more tickets available. Well we have been working hard with Santa to add extra capacity to our trains, and we are pleased to offer additional seating on most of the trains on all four weekends.
On the December trains these bookings are currently only available for groups of up to four people at a time as we have to limit seating bays to one group each and all of the larger bays are sold out already.
If you want to book a larger group, you should make two separate bookings for the same date and time, and then let us know afterwards, so we can try our best to get you sitting together when we allocate the seats. Trains have been added at 16:40 on Saturday November 26th and Sunday November 27th which can accommodate larger groups as well.
Book those tickets now – head over to our Santa page to find out more details.
Unfortunately we will not be open for Halloween trains this year.
Our volunteers are working really hard behind the scenes to get ready for the Christmas trains, including getting the steam locomotives and carriages ready, and we simply don’t have the manpower or the time to set up and run a proper Halloween event this year. We hope to bring a much-improved Halloween offering in 2023.
Part of the problem this year is the loss of key volunteers during the pandemic, and the ever-increasing burden on the remaining few as we work hard to keep tracks and trains up to the high standards required for railways in the 2020s. If you feel you want to join the team to help out, it really is great fun when all your hard work pays off. See our volunteering page for more details.